Today Nick is leaving for his third year of college. I stand nearby snapping funny pictures. Wait, what's that weighted feeling in my heart? It's uncomfortably familiar. Smile... snap... say cheese...snap. Mike photo bombs yet another photo...laugh...snap. I snicker as I simultaneously stuff the lump back down into my throat... for later.
Our little family of four is changing back to three, yet again. Bittersweet. Double-edge sword. I'm so SO happy, elated, for my son to move forward into his own wonderful life! It is quintessentially satisfying. And yet...
Now that it's later... I'm blubbering over my keypad-- (hopefully salt water doesn't damage Apples.) The house is quiet. (Unless you count the sobbing.) Crickets are squeaking outside. The sky is lobelia blue. Nick has left. And everyone else has gone for the day. Except for Lulu. She is slumped at my feet-- saddened that her walking buddy has gone away. Hey, me too! Earlier, she nervously watched and sniffed every duffle, cardboard box, bedding, clothes, camera equipment, as they went out the door. Me? I watched too, alongside the dog, only I refrained from OCD jumping up 'n down and panting nervously as the last of his stuff got lugged out.
I wanted to though.
Third time is a charm. Phhhffff. Are you kidding me? It does get easier, true, but it's still NOT exactly charming. And okay O-K-A-Y... so Nick's only 45 minutes away in Boulder. I already know I'm a whimp, so no need to rub it in!! (Still friends?) It is what it is. "I yam what I yam," says Popeye. Hmmm, I wish I had some of Popeye's super strength right now. Hand me some spinach, would ya? (And a tissue, please?)
When family structure changes, it takes time to adjust. (I'm more like a comfy pair of slippers than I would like to admit.) From the movies we watch to our long debates about film directors on down to cooking pasta for three instead of... six. (What can I say, he likes my cooking.) And I adore his company.
All the emotion and commotion of "kids leaving for college" reminds me of labor pains. Some women swear up and down (mostly down) that giving birth, to them, doesn't hurt. And I believe them (sort of...maybe.) But, my point is, I want "them" to believe "me" when I say labor hurt "me" like h...&$%#^()*ouch !^%@%^snip!.^%???!! We all process life's passages differently. The end result finds us both smiling into the eyes of a remarkably charming boy or girl-- for about 18 years.
So. Once I've used up a couple quarts of tears, I find a diversion. And no, it's not the same as "stuffing your feelings." (Remember the tears?) Once we've acknowledged the sadness... diversion is a little blessing from the angels. I begin a new writing project or find a cluttered cabinet to clean. Or BOTH!
Soon after, it doesn't hurt anymore. In truth... after I'm metaphorically all stitched up... it's kind of liberating. Because through the discomfort, there is great joy in knowing my child is excelling and he's happy. What more?
So. I'm going to be okay.
We're ALL going to be okay.
And before I know it... I''ll be setting the table for four, once again.